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Xaverian baseball captures Division I championship

John Connolly (pictured) fires home a pitch during Xaverian baseball's 8-3 state semifinal victory against St. John's Prep. Photos by Mike Flanagan.

By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor

Xaverian baseball capped an absolutely dominant 2021 season with a 2-0 victory against Leominster on Monday night to win the Division I state championship.

Before Xaverian even got to Monday's title game, the Hawks hosted arch rival and North Sectional champ St. John's Prep in the state semifinals on Wednesday afternoon.

Henry Fleckner led off the game with a hit-by-pitch before stealing second and advancing to third on a fielder's choice. Fleckner would come home on a wild throw to second on a steal attempt to give Xaverian a 1-0 lead.

SJP took a 2-1 lead in the top of the second on a two-RBI single by Eric Wing. The Eagles threatened for more by loading the bases with just one out, but Xaverian starter John Connolly was able to limit the damage to just a single run by enduing an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

An RBI double by Dylan Reilly to the left-centerfield gap in the bottom of the second plated Connolly to tie the game at two. Fleckner then belted a two-RBI double into the right-centerfield gap to give the Hawks a 4-2 lead. Matt Brinker extended the lead to 5-2 with an RBI double off the left field wall to score Brinker as Xaverian held a 5-2 lead after two innings.

SJP got a run back in the top of the third. With runners at the corners and two away in the top of the fourth, Henry Fleckner made the play of the game with a diving stab at second and throw to first to keep the game at 5-3. A series of SJP errors in the bottom of the fourth allowed the Hawks to bulk their lead to 7-3 after four innings. The score remained 7-3 until the bottom of the sixth when Brinker gave the Hawks some insurance with an RBI sacrifice fly to plate Fleckner. Connolly came back on to record the final six outs for the complete-game victory to advance the Hawks to the state finals.

In Monday's championship bout, Marc Cedrone tossed a complete-game gem, allowing only three hits and striking out 12. An RBI double by Ryan Douglas to plate Henry Fleckner, along with a solo home run by John Connolly, would be all the offense that the Hawks would need as Cedrone went into cruise control.

The title is the third of head coach Gerry Lambert's tenure at Xaverian.

For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.

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